Saturday, June 4, 2022

Dumpster Fire the Faction: Musing on Building Republic Fleets

We here at CGYSO and Blissfully Ignorant Gaming have talked a bit on the blog as well as on the podcast about the relatively lower opinion of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in the larger Armada community. By now, you’ve probably heard all the usual complaints: they lack dice fixing, the Jedi squadrons are overpriced, their nav charts are terrible, their admirals are lackluster, they need a bunch of token management, etc. A lot of those notions have some truth, but the whole picture is greater than the sum of the individual parts. At the end of the day, GAR is a very different faction that just does not play like the other three factions. It is not a faction designed for flash, dramatic maneuvers, or big alpha strikes. I’ve found GAR as a faction to be a spiritual successor of Biggs and Shmitty’s infamous Garm “Dumpster Fire” fleet that won GENCON a few years back. It is a grinding, plodding, and ruthlessly efficient faction. It has seemed to work best for geek and I by going for a death by a thousand cuts and a fairly minimalist approach to fleet building. We’ve started to have some good success with our fleets, so today, I’m, WE’RE, geek is here helping too! going to share some of our lessons learned.

Live footage of geek "helping"


Fear the Reaper Pelta

Let’s start with possibly the craziest realization: the Pelta is the Republic’s best ship. Stop laughing. I’m being serious. No, really, stop laughing. Look, I get it. The Pelta is notorious from its time as the Rebel’s only source of Fleet Command. It has a lot of detractors. It’s a slow ship at a time when closing the gap on Onagers is a prime concern. What the GAR Pelta has, though, that the Rebel Pelta does not, is an absolutely bonkers level of efficiency. The base chassis is a sub-50 point ship with a brace, evade, and an engineering value of 4. The first time I had Demolisher, formerly one of Armada’s most feared bogeymen, just bounce off a Pelta like it wasn’t even there, I was in a bit of awe. Here was one of the most maligned ships in the game, getting hit with a hit/crit (which would have triggered APTs from Demolisher) and three hits on Demolisher’s black dice. One evade and one brace later, it was just two damage, which the Pelta proceeded to repair in its entirety with the very next activation. The ratio of toughness to cost on the Pelta’s base chassis might very well be the best in the game. It is MUCH harder to kill one of these buggers than it might seem at first glance. 

The Pelta has two very solid titles, and it brings the all important Fleet Support slot for maximum token shenanigans. I think the most critical choice, though, is in the Support Team slot, as it provides two important options for supporting your fleet. And you know what the best part is? Neither choice involves Engine Techs. That’s right, me, Truthiness, the speed demon himself, is telling you to forgo any more speed on GAR Peltas. That’s because both Projection Experts and Fighter Coordination Teams provide something better for your fleet overall. Projection Experts helps you export the Pelta’s native toughness and efficiency to the rest of your fleet. The native engineering of 4, combined with Parts Resupply giving a steady stream of tokens, means the Pelta can reliably hand out 2 shields every turn without losing any of its own. It’s a great way to make the Pelta’s presence felt despite its slow speed. This Parts Resupply and Projection Experts build is probably the default loadout I would consider for a Pelta. That said, Fighter Coordination Team is a solid choice, especially if you are bringing ARCs and/or Ahsoka in her squadron form. ARCs need a bit of help getting to the fight and repositioning, and FCT just does the job better than Hyperspace Rings. With Ahsoka, FCTs allow you to use a somewhat cheesy tactic of generating extra shots outside of Ahsoka’s actual activation. It’s nowhere near the level of Moralo, but it’s still a cute little tactic that can be hard to shut down when you use obstacles to prevent Ahsoka from getting tied down.


Ahsoka and Anakin, the perfect team

You might be tempted to start loading up the Peltas with upgrades like a Christmas Tree. After all, a Pelta with the TB-73 title, Projection Experts, a Defensive Retrofit, and a Fleet Support has to be good right? Not exactly. Once you start sinking upgrades into the Peltas, that efficiency starts to drop. That’s something I’ve noticed that is actually pretty common across all GAR ships and brings us to our next point.



Only Take Upgrades You Absolutely Need


GAR has some wonderfully efficient base ships. Beyond the Pelta, the Consular is a very cheap skirmisher, the Acclamator is probably the best or second best value for a medium ship in the game (the CIS Muni has a solid claim for first), and both Venators are solid value for their cost. The problems start when you load them with upgrades. Take a good hard look at that Venator 2 you loaded up with XI7, SPHA-Ts, Zak, Ordnance Experts, Thermals, and the Tranquility title. Ask yourself: “is this thing going to contribute its equivalent points?” At the end of the day, that SPHA-T Venator is probably only marginally less effective without Zak, XI7, and OE. Save the points to invest elsewhere.


Upgrades are like Crypto for GAR: an illusion of usefulness

You can find examples of this all over the fleet. An Acclamator 2 with nothing more than a Defensive Retrofit is an incredibly efficient hull, bringing just as much front arc firepower as the Venator, but with a huge discount. A naked C70 Charger supported by IF has an amazing navigation chart and flexible battery alignment. It can kite and broadside to avoid closing if needed, and then zip in for a solid double arc when the opportunity presents itself. This ties into Truth’s statement about the efficiency of the Pelta. The most efficient GAR ships have minimal upgrades and let you win the game through sheer force and exerted firepower and not crazy upgrade wombo combos. A big part of this loss of efficiency when stacking upgrades comes from the faction’s relatively poor options for dice control. They have a lot of rainbow batteries (meaning red, blue and black all in the same arc), making color based options like Ordnance Experts unappealing. They have no Ion Cannon upgrades to speak of, so Leading Shot isn’t a choice. Buying Linked Turbolaser Towers on every ship adds up way too fast and only helps a single die. Rather than just making GAR a bad faction, though, I think it just means you need a different approach. Speaking of force and firepower…



Death by Papercut


Armada can often be a game of haymakers throwing big dice pools. Demolisher and Avenger used to be the embodiment of that. The Onager and Patriot Fist are two of the current boogeymen. It can lead to the conclusion that you need a haymaker to be effective. GAR just doesn’t do haymakers. Because of their inefficient sources of dice control (and the fact that it would require several high cost-upgrades at a minimum to get them there), GAR doesn’t get nearly as much out of their investment in a haymaker approach. It needs to use the second, less traveled path of success: death by paper cut. The reason I like to compare this faction to Shmitty’s old dumpster fire approach comes down to this approach to dealing damage. The dirty secret of Armada is while you can throw a lot of points at mitigating or powering through defense tokens, they’re actually pretty useless if a ship is taking damage from lots of different sources all at once. Squad heavy fleets are successful largely because of this fact. A brace is useless if you’re only taking one damage at a time. It’s not even all that great when you’re taking 2-3. Redirects burn out quickly when you are dealing with the small amounts of plink damage. This is the first part of what I mean if you hear me say “embrace the grind” with GAR. Persistent damage in small chunks while leaning into the raw efficiency of your ships pays dividends over the course of the game.


Grinding gets you wonderful things like coffee! Everyone loves coffee!

There are generally two approaches I think you can go to implementing this maxim. The first is leaning on the Venator 1 with Intensity Firepower. You’ll generally want to do this if you have a more ship heavy approach. Plain and simple, Intensify Firepower is the most efficient means of dice control available to GAR. It’s a method that also likes to leverage as many smaller dice pools as possible. That means double arcs, small ships like the Pelta and C70, and it means just accepting a “good enough” on larger pools like the Acclamator and Venator. Yes, there will be some frustrating whiffs, but the goal is to leverage the efficiency of your hulls to just bring more dice and more things your opponent has to kill to make the pain stop. If you lose a small ship, oh well, you’ve only invested 45-55 points. You’ve got more of them. The relentless tick of damage that comes from Intensify Firepower is a great way to play GAR and leans into their strengths. The Venator-1 DEFINITELY isn’t a brawler like a Kuat, so you’re going to want to lurk back with it and use the native red dice until it’s time to zoom through, hit them with the black dice once, maybe twice if you’re lucky, and then keep on trucking out of there before your Venator explodes.

The second approach is a more traditional squadron-focused one. There are a number of ways to do this, including Plo, Luminara, or Yularen, but they all attempt to leverage the traditional strength of squadrons in overloading defense tokens. Again, though, GAR is a little different. You don’t have any fast bombers, with the mighty Y-Wing being your fast at a whomping three. Your really nasty bombers are the ACR-170s, which I absolutely adore, but need additional help getting to the fight. Neither choice reacts well to needs for rapid repositioning, so you need to be methodical in your approach. Use obstacles to keep them from getting locked down, spread out where you can, don’t be afraid to take some hits on the way in. You have the hull to slug through.


Aethersprites and V-19 belong together.

In either approach, squads or ships, that efficiency and grind will allow you to fight and beat some of the tankiest combos in the game; Agate Starhawk or Wat Tambor Prov can take one shot, yes. But what about the other 4-5 ship shots coming right afterwards or the other 6 squadrons you’re slinging? You aren’t going to one shot anything. But over 2 rounds of applied, persistent pressure onto a target, it will die. Persistence is the name of the game. Even the much maligned Aethersprite (which I actively hated when it was released), has a place. However, there is one squadron that I think you should always take, and that is….



He is the Chosen One


Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Let me first start by saying I am not really a fan of playing Armada without squadrons in the modern game. There was a time I was a hardcore squadronless players. Today, there are too many very dangerous squadrons in the game, and some brutal combos that harshly punish players that forgo squadrons. It was always a fringe way to play, but it is especially hard now. The good news is a squadron screen is more viable than ever to slow down opposing squadrons and possibly kill some important ones in the process. Until recently, GAR struggled to make light or medium screens that could really justify their investment. Kickback and Axe together are a solid combo for slowing down incoming damage and prolonging the squadron fight. What GAR lacked, however, was offensive anti-squadron firepower that could remove key pieces of an enemy squadron wing.


Is this the obvious picture to put here? Yes. Do I care? Nope.

Then we got Rapid Reinforcement 1, and with it, the monster murder ace that is Anakin Skywalker in a Aethersprite. We have a lot of nicknames for this version of the Chosen One, from “Splashakin” to “Deltakin” to “Murder Ani” to “Little Orphan Ani”. I go with Danni vs Yanni, but I’m also me. The real take away, though, is this new Anakin fills that offensive gap in GAR squadron wings. There are a lot of different combinations of GAR squadron wings that I like, but Anakin is in every single one of them. At the lower end of the points spectrum, such as Anakin, Axe, and 2 V-19s, Anakin fills out that lower end squadron screen very well. If you want a little more investment, you can add in a second Aethersprite alongside Anakin. Anakin and Ahsoka in particular pair extremely well. You can’t trigger Anakin’s splash ability more than once in the turn, but Ahsoka bouncing around to get Anakin to take additional shots synergizes well with his Adept 2. Finally, on the high end of the points investment, you can take that smaller screen and just tac on some bombers of your choice. My current preferred approach is Anakin, Kickback, Axe, a generic Aethersprite, and four generic ARC-170s for exactly 134 points. It’s a nasty, durable ball that can punch back quite hard. I’ve been running Danni, Ahsoka, Axe, and Kickback for 80 in several fleets of my own. Anyway, the point is Anakin is a phenomenal new tool that is useful in every single Republic fleet. Use him.



Gold? Nah, Go for Silver


I don’t have a clever segway to introduce this one (you’re off the blog now then), so I’ll just state the thesis right up front: Clone Captain Silver is the best officer available to the Republic. Period. End of story. There is no competition. He might not look like much, but Silver provides something that GAR largely lacks: flexibility. The most obvious benefit to Silver is the ability to leverage Surprise Attack as first player. Throw him on your flagship and it doesn’t matter that you had to deploy at a reduced speed. Caught in an Interdictor’s G-7X Grav Well? Stuck it, Imps, speed 3 here I go. Surprise Attack is a pretty common red objective these days, so being able to disregard one of the major downsides is pretty nice. Just put him on your flagship and you’ll never have to fear Sam Simon’s double Interdictor speed zero trap ever again.


Use Silver and you can make this happen. Don't you want to blow up Interdictors?

The less obvious benefit to Silver is just the natural command flexibility he brings. I have often found myself wanting to adjust speed while doing other commands on many ships. Silver lets you do just that at least twice in a game. You can even go all the way down to zero with absolute confidence that you can jump all the way up to speed three on a dime. First player and don’t feel like moving into that kill pocket? Pump the brakes and stay put knowing full well you can activate it first in the next turn. I especially love him on a squadron-focused Venator, adjusting speed on the fly, while still pushing a ton of squadrons. 



Build for Your Admiral


Biggs and I have had some disagreements in the past about how to approach incorporating your commander in fleet building. He likes to build the core of the fleet, and then look at what commander best fits it. I’ve always approached it as starting with the commander, and building out from the strengths of that commander. While Biggs’ method has its virtues (especially with Separatists I think), GAR absolutely needs the latter approach. All of GAR’s commanders are quite specialized, requiring you to consider their needs from the start. Plo fleets must commit to winning the squad fight, or at least finding a way to keep their squadrons moving and bombing. Luminara fleets must build around forcing multiple shots into the same ships. Yularen fleets must be built to leverage both the bonus to squadron tokens and the ability to repair friendly squadrons. Tarkin must be built to leverage his fleetwide token generation. The only real generalists are Bail and Obi Wan, but I think both of these work best in very specific fleets as well. Bail likes to have fewer ships so that you can leverage his limited amount of bonus dials in more important spots. Obi Wan, meanwhile, probably wants a good number of ships so that he can maximize his damage mitigation. The point is, GAR needs to consider the needs of their commanders. There is no plug and play option if you want to be successful. 

Good fleet-building is one of the hardest aspects of the game; and our articles are very general with respect to this; “bring ships with a redirect with Obi-Wan!” Thanks, John, great help. But focus on the efficiency we’ve talked about and what those commanders are doing and how to best leverage their ability to help you win games. Keep building and keep trying and you’ll get the list to a state where it’s getting there. It will also give you practice with GAR, which is also important to winning with them. All 6 of the GAR Commanders have worth and we’ve made good lists for all of them, so it isn’t a matter of the commander being bad so much as your list needing refinement. Speaking of list refinement….



Deployment and Objectives Have Extra Importance


Last but not least, are deployment and objectives. To say these are important is a rather obvious statement. After all, these considerations are always important in Armada. To say they’re especially important to GAR is a bit like saying “water is important to life.” The thing is, some life can go without water longer than others. In this analogy, GAR is the fish flopping around on the deck desperately trying to get back to the water and the other factions are camels. That’s because of the one indisputable fact about GAR: they absolutely suck at steering. They’re what happens when an engineer looks at the Victory and says “yes, that is the perfect amount of yaw.” Exhibit A is the Acclamator, which has a single joint of yaw at any speed. Exhibit B is the Venator, which only has the luxury of two joints of yaw at speed two, one at each joint. Exhibit C, the Pelta, has the same speed two chart as the Venator, but can’t go as fast. The newly arrived Victory adds Exhibit D as it brings the OG terrible navigation into a new faction. The only ship that can steer worth a damned is the Consular (which, to be fair, has an absolutely amazing chart).


Want a good nav chart? Great! Oh...you wanted durability too? Nah, can't do that.

Rather than trying to make your navigation experience better by strapping expensive Engine Techs to Peltas, or taking Bail to go crazy on navigate commands, geek and I have found it better to just embrace that horrible navigation. This is the second part of what I mean when I say “embrace the grind.” Your navigation is going to suck. Accept it. Once you accept that reality, you can adapt in other ways. Deployment is the most critical way of compensating, which can often be aided by objectives. Short answer: do not take any objective where your opponent controls the entire battlefield of deployment. Long answer, read on! This can, and is a whole article in and of itself. Luckily, Snipafist did a write up on the Deployment aspect of the game, which has remained very relevant. I highly encourage you to read it. Objectives help by allowing you to concentrate the fight on your terms. Surprise Attack, Contested Outpost, Doomed Station, and Capture the VIP are some examples of objectives that allow you to force the fight to a certain point on the board. This allows you in turn to avoid some of the pitfalls of your terrible nav charts. As first player, under no circumstances should you be picking objectives that give your opponent a significant deployment advantage. Don’t even think about touching Solar Corona or Superior Positions, no matter how much you think you can leverage them or avoid their downsides. The initial positioning for GAR is immensely important.

Related to that, this is not us saying “never navigate” but understand WHY you’re navigating and where you’re navigating to. Your sides are solid, even without SPHAT, so getting a double arc is very helpful for keeping GAR ships trucking on the damage output. Speed 2 is a great spot for using a navigate once or twice with a Venator, but you should definitely be repairing more than you think with GAR.  Their shields and hull are fine (Rebel larges win the award for best shields, Imps for best hull, but second place in both of those isn’t bad I swear!) but where GAR really wins is tankiness.  They have several upgrades (Implacable, the aforementioned Projection Experts) that will allow you to regenerate shields quickly.  Combine that with great Salvos and your opponent may not WANT to shoot these ships you’re bringing, resulting in you actually living longer than you think. Position them well and you can keep your ship navigating and engineering right where you need to the whole game.


Oops, sorry, wrong Grand Army of the Republic. What were we talking about?

So there you have it, geek and I’s attempt to make a “bad” faction into something fun and competitive. We hope that helps you address some of your GAR problems. Once we got deeper into this faction, it really did become enjoyable in a way distinctly different from the others. Hopefully this gets on the path to that same kind of enjoyment. Until next time, happy gaming!

Imperial commander review: Moff Jerjerrod

I've been flirting with this article for a while but its time has finally come: the Moff Jerjerrod (Jerry to his friends, and we're all friends here, right?) review!

Slow your roll Vader, some of us haven't had an article yet!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

CIS-Cast!

John remembered! And is up watching Netflix and posting this from his phone hooray!

The classiest Google search for a commander none of us are featuring, of course.


Hit the jump for some fun lists.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Rebel Providence!

 The Providence! Some sort of classy opener that I didn't just recycle from an earlier post here!

My original idea was to just take a screenshot of Eric's article itself....

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The GAR Victory!

Cross-faction ships! The ol' Victory! Bringing its might to the Republic! Just like we always something something let's break the ship down and pretend it has value.

I believe retail is about $49.95, but maybe you have an old one sitting around?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Hera and Anakin Actually in articles!

Hera and Anakin added to the articles, and copy-pasted below! AND I updated the Rebel squads article (pretty sure I just typed the name "Hera" in there, maybe once?) and GAR squads grouping one (massive re-do and changes, go read as I'm not reposting it), too!  Along with the individual GAR squad articles (minor changes, but always worth re-reading as I just learned smarter play that I wrote 6 months ago) themselves!

Space Mom!
As mentioned, all the different X-wings emphasize different aspects of the X-wing chassis; Biggs and the tankiness, Luke and the anti-ship, and Wedge and the anti-squad.  Hera allows all the different X-wings to work together, allowing for all the Escort squadrons at distance 1 to reroll 1 die when they attack.  This is in addition to Toryn Farr for anti-squad or BCC for anti-ship.  In practice, Hera's significant cost over even a regular X-wing ace means that she may end up replacing a BCC in your lists.  Hera does NOT have Escort herself, but she helps all your friends who do like a real squadron leader.  Pair her with at least 3 generic X-wings and/or Biggs and Jan Ors to allow her to get the best benefit out of her ability.  At the MOMENT, her ability is a pulse.  Which means when she activates, all those around her get Adept-1.  And if you "de-activate" her with Adar Tallon, she can potentially give out Adept-1 again to everyone for Adept-2.  That means you can reroll 2 dice with anti-squad attacks, but you may NOT reroll the same die more than once (for anti-ship OR anti-squad).  For added fun with those X-wings, pair her with Biggs and Jan.  You're approaching your ace limit (and the squadron limit) but you've got a strong, tanky squad ball going for sure.

Should you use Hera and YT-1300s for counter and Adept? Eh.  It's FINE but if you're bringing them you want the tankiness of the YT-1300s more than the inherent dice they roll.  Toryn (and obvious Jan) nearby is fine and most likely all you need with them; leave Hera at home in that case.

Always bring your lightsaber in case you need to make a Hot Landing

Anakin (or Splashikin as Truth has started calling him) is your basic Jedi ace.  Dude hits like a TRUCK and is worth bringing for sure; I'd almost count him as your first ace a lot of the time!  His ability only works on his activation, so a second shot from Ahsoka (above) doesn't let him use his ability, but the dice he throws and the damage he can do are significant.  3 damage and 1 accuracy (not impossible from 4 dice and Adept-2) or 2 damage and 2 accuracies, combined with his own ability can instantly kill any 3-hull scatter ace.  Imperials and CIS pilots fear this Jedi Master Knight. His black die anti-ship with Adept should be 1 damage almost every time, and it is well worth throwing him against ships when you've mopped up the squads.  For added fun, pair him with Flight Controllers.  He's also the only ace with both Dodge AND defense tokens.  Make sure to apply THAT first before you do anything else.  He is a 4 hull scatter ace, though, and remains quite squishy.  Make sure you have V19s, probably Axe especially, protecting him to keep him alive and only in the engagements that matter.  If you over extend him, or ANY of these Deltas, for that matter, they will die.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The Adepticon Write-Up Part II: Who's the Bossk

Well, I promised I would do it, though it's taken some time. Let's find out how this whole thing went down! (I'm aware the formatting isn't great, but hey at least you can read it?)

A face only a mother could love...

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Jank Army of the Republic Podcast Companion


Because John is a terrible person was busy or something, it falls to me to do belatedly put up the lists we discussed on the podcast the other night. Sorry for the delay!

Biggs

Combat GAR
Author: Biggs
Faction: Galactic Republic
Commander: Plo Koon

Assault Objective: Marked For Destruction
Defense Objective: Abandoned Mining Facility
Navigation Objective: Volatile Deposits
 
[flagship] Venator II-Class Star Destroyer (100)
- Plo Koon (26)
- Resolute (6)
- Thermal Shields (5)
- Mercy Mission (0)
- Flag Bridge (0)
- Clone Captain Silver (4)
- Local Fire Control (4)
= 145 points
 
Consular-class Armed Cruiser (37)
= 37 points
 
Pelta-Class Transport Frigate (45)
- Bomber Command Center (8)
= 53 points
 
Consular-class Charger C70 (45)
= 45 points
 
4 BTL-B Y-Wing Squadron (10)
1 "Axe" (17)
1 "Kickback" (16)
1 Anakin Skywalker (24)
1 Ahsoka Tano (23)
= 120 points
 

Geek

GOOF Tarkin  (57/400/400)
=========================
 
Venator I-class Star Destroyer (90 + 29: 119)
· Clone Captain Zak (5)
· Ordnance Experts (4)
· Intensify Firepower! (6)
· SPHA-T (7)
· Assault Proton Torpedoes (4)
· Tranquility (3)
 
Acclamator II-class (71 + 47: 118)
· Admiral Tarkin (30)
· Clone Captain Silver (4)
· Clone Gunners (4)
· Thermal Shields (5)
· Implacable (4)
 
Charger c70 (45 + 8: 53)
· Radiant VII (1)
· Slicer Tools (7)
 
Pelta-class Transport Frigate (45 + 8: 53)
· Comms Net (2)
· Projection Experts (6)
 
Axe (17)
Kickback (16)
2 x V-19 Torrent Squadron (2 x 12)
 
Blockade Run
Hyperspace Migration
Contested Outpost
 

Truthiness

Name: Yularen Beef Wall
Faction: Republic
Commander: Admiral Yularen
 
Assault: Precision Strike
Defense: Capture the VIP
Navigation: Superior Positions
 
Venator II (100)
• Admiral Yularen (24)
• Clone Captain Silver (4)
• Flight Controllers (6)
• Boosted Comms (4)
• Electronic Countermeasures (7)
• Tranquility (3)
= 148 Points
 
Pelta Medical Frigate (49)
• Clone Navigation Officer (4)
• Fighter Coordination Team (3)
• Bomber Command Center (8)
= 64 Points
 
Pelta Medical Frigate (49)
• Fighter Coordination Team (3)
• Comms Net (2)
= 54 Points
 
Squadrons:
• Anakin Skywalker (Delta-7) (24)
• Axe (17)
• Kickback (16)
• Delta-7 Aethersprite Squadron (17)
• 4 x ARC-170 Starfighter Squadron (60)
= 134 Points
 
Total Points: 400

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Adepticon Write-Up Part 1

Now that we're in the wake of new stuff new stuff yeah yeah yeah, it's time for what you all wanted to read about: the old meta.  Hit the jump for some Adepticon talk!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Rapid Reinforcements Hot Takes

It's time for a new hot take article and John/geek19 and I/Eric have some company this time with Truthiness offering some opinions as well. Generally, one of us took the lead for each section and others chimed in afterwards.

Speaking for myself (Eric), I have mixed feelings about the Rapid Reinforcements. A year and a half since AMG took the reins from FFG, we got something finally but it was a low-effort something. No new models, no actual product created by AMG that we can purchase. Just a PDF we can print out and now we can use models FFG made earlier for different factions. The choices in some regards seem based on lore rather than what would offer new options for a faction: this is particularly striking with GAR getting a Victory, which is very similar to an Acclamator, instead of something that would meaningfully diversify a four-ship Clone Wars faction (an easy lore-friendly example would be an Arquitens, which would give GAR something they currently lack). But it is something and AMG deserves some credit even if I personally am a little underwhelmed. Truthiness and John are more enthusiastic about it, so I want to reiterate this is my personal opinion. If it had been accompanied by a balance patch (like Legion has been getting) I'd be a lot more jazzed. Regardless, let's talk about the new stuff, shall we?

Monday, March 21, 2022

Who's the Bossk SECRET RULESET

SECRET SECRET TRANSMISSION SECRET HUSH HUSH SECRET MANY BOTHANS DIED EXTRA SECRET


I've found the secret ruleset that will gain all players bonus points for Who's the Bossk (this Saturday March 26 at Adepticon).  The attractive judge has assured me that trying to obtain these bonuses will result in EXTRA POINTS for you and your list (370 points, no commander, 4 uniques total across the fleet remember!)  This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's just what I've been able to dig up and unredact and translate.  I'm SURE some enterprising code cracker will figure out what SOME of these can mean....

Friday, March 4, 2022

More Experimentation

Hey everybody! It’s your friendly neighborhood Truthiness back again. Last time I was writing, I was working on a double Venator SPHA-T fleet that was a little janky, but I thought might have some potential. Well, I’ve gotten a bunch of reps with it and I’m reporting back in. Unfortunately that fleet just isn’t quite scratching the competitive itch for me. Today, I’ll break down the experiences of that previously discussed Tarkin fleet and then talk about the next fleet I’ll be trying out.


Experimenting is fun!

If you need a refresher on my last thought experiment, you can find it here. Let’s start first with what it does well. With the double SPHA-Ts, it can dominate a section of the battlefield, creating very effective overlapping fields of fire. It shines against medium ships, such as the Acclamator and the Munificent. The large number of blues in the dice pool meant that I hardly ever went without at least one accuracy. They were similarly effective against larges. When working together, they could melt a large base in short order, especially when one of them could manage a double arc. The squad ball also won me over in its screening role. Kickback and Axe together manage to create a kind of perfect situation for the two generic Deltas, shielding a lot of their worst weaknesses. Axe’s damage mitigation is pretty obvious in his own right, but Kickback also plays a critical role in managing engagements. He keeps the incoming shots on the Deltas more limited, allowing them to stick around longer and use their impressive offensive firepower.


Where the fleet struggles is positioning, which should be pretty obvious. With such a limited number of deployments and GAR's typical bad yaw values, it is prone to being out-deployed pretty badly. You can mitigate this to a degree with objectives and precise maneuver, but you need to be essentially perfect. The biggest vulnerability is the Venator 1, which is prone to knockout shots without access to a defensive retrofit. A large ship, flown well, can box out the Venator 2, which really needs to screen the Venator 1. MSU is also a major struggle for the fleet. SPHA-Ts are certainly lethal against small base ships, as are the Venator 2’s double salvos. That said, seasoned MSU players are used to timing their attacks to swarm a single target. With such limited maneuver options, it’s hard for the Venators to compensate for an MSU swarm piling onto a single ship, once again usually the Venator 1. You’ll take some down with you thanks to the lethality of SPHA-Ts, but not enough to compensate for the loss of the Venator. Finally, while the squadron wing is solid against equal sized or larger enemy squadron balls, it is painfully inefficient against lighter squadron wings. If an opponent is squadless, it is just too expensive for the small amount of damage it can do against ships.


It’s still a surprisingly fun fleet. I’ll keep it in my back pocket for occasional use in store tournaments and other more casual events. But as far as my quest for a new competitive fleet, I think I have enough experience with the fleet now to call it. It’s just not quite up to snuff. So that means it’s on to my next idea. Believe it or not, there was a time I played squad heavy. As befits my contrarian nature, it was back in the wave 1 and 2 days, when squadrons were considered “bad” in competitive play. I won a wave 2 regional with an Independence MC80 and a good stack of B-Wings. There are days I miss that style of play, but I generally don’t really care to fly fleets too similar to popular archetypes. I like the challenge of trying different things. Rebel squadrons aren’t exactly lighting it up anymore, though, so I think it’s time to indulge my old tendencies. Since last year’s VWC, I’ve greatly admired Louis Andre’s squadron heavy fleet from that tournament. I beat it, but it was an absolute bear to grind through. I made an adapted version of my own shortly after playing against it. I’ve continued to revisit and tweak from time to time, but never got it on the board. Here is the latest and great version:


The best sci-fi ship ever made, seen here in no way about to die.

Name: Tench Meiloorun Disease

Faction: Rebel

Commander: Kyrsta Agate


Assault: Most Wanted

Defense: Asteroid Tactics

Navigation: Superior Positions


Assault Frigate Mk2 B (72)

• Kyrsta Agate (20)

• Toryn Farr (7)

• Flight Controllers (6)

• Expanded Hangar Bay (5)

• Reinforced Blast Doors (5)

• Linked Turbolaser Towers (7)

= 122 Points


CR90 Corvette A (44)

• Hondo Ohnaka (2)

• Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (7)

• Liberator (2)

• All fighters, Follow Me! (5)

= 60 Points


CR90 Corvette A (44)

• Ahsoka Tano (2)

• Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (7)

• Jaina's Light (2)

= 55 Points


GR-75 Medium Transports (18)

• Leia Organa (3)

• Parts Resupply (3)

• Boosted Comms (4)

= 28 Points


Squadrons:

• Lando Calrissian (23)

• Jan Ors (19)

• Ketsu Onyo (22)

• Biggs Darklighter (19)

• 3 x X-wing Squadron (39)

• Gold Squadron (12)

= 134 Points

Total Points: 399


With so many X-Wings, and the presence of Biggs and Gold Squadron, the name is a call back to the “Trench Run Disease” of the old Rogue Squadron series. Why was Meiloorun thrown in there? Because we like puns and Rebels, ok? The anchor of the fleet is unquestionably the Assault Frigate with Agate in the command chair. This was the element that really stuck out to me last year. I honestly think this ship might actually be as durable as an Agate Liberty, and much more flexible. Key to that durability is the ability to double up on two different damage mitigation tokens depending on the situation. If you’re facing more smalls, the ability to double up on evades brushes off a lot of damage while maintaining Agate’s “break glass for emergency” for the brace. If you’re going up against larger dice pools, you can double up on braces instead. The Assault Frigate’s preference for broadsiding is also helpful for survival, as it can kite pretty well if needed. Its role is to be the tip of the spear for the squad fight. You want it right in the middle of the squadron action, commanding squads, dishing out LTT flak (situation depending), and providing Toryn re-rolls for both the squad on squad fight as well as for Gold and Ketsu bombing runs. You might have to disengage at some point, but it’s a very durable and slippery ship.

You thought I'd only have ONE picture of X-Wings being awesome?

My choice of two CR90s instead of two flotillas is the biggest difference between my version and LA’s fleet. I might be legally obligated to run at least two CR90s in Rebel lists at this point. Hold on, let me check my contract. *Shuffles through some papers* Yup, legally obligated. In seriousness, I prefer a more combined arms approach rather than leaning almost exclusively on squadrons for damage. CR90s with TRCs provide a lot of reliable dakka for cheap. They’re prone to getting bullseye in this age of long range haymakers, but I have the anchor of the Assault Frigate and the lethality of the squadrons to give the CR90s some cover. Getting the second CR90 in there in place of a flotilla might seem like a small change, but it really isn't. That change, along with TRCs instead of LTTs on the 90s, shifts the role of the CR90s to a more aggressive ship hunting role rather than the tabling insurance and flak LA used his CR90 for. The second CR90 also allows me to get All Fighters Follow Me into the mix with the Liberator title. That one turn of speed four means a more aggressive squad ball in addition to more aggressive ships. You can see the pattern here: I like the option to be aggressive.


At its core, the squad ball is a pretty standard Rebel Mustache Ride. Biggs and three X-Wings supported by Jan are a very durable and lethal air superiority wing. With AFFM and Flight Controllers, I’ve leaned pretty hard into winning a squad on squad fighter to create space for the bombers. Lando is a nice flexible option, able to go after ships or critical squadrons in equal measure. Believe it or not though, he’s probably the part of the ball I like the least. I have a bad habit of getting him killed after only getting the opportunity to use his ability once. I need to get better at keeping him protected by the X-Wings so that he doesn’t get burned down quickly on a single brace. Still, Lando is probably the first ace I might toss out in favor of something else as I refine this. Yes, I know that’s heresy, but I’ve never been as high on Lando as others are. Ketsu and Gold provide the obvious bombing capability that the squadron wing is a little light on. Ketsu in particular is a favorite of mine. You could toss her ability out entirely and I would still take her. Her combination of Rogue, Grit, two blue bomber dice, and a scatter defense token make her an entirely unique asset that has won me games in the past. Before the advent of Point Defense Ion Cannons, I might have been tempted to take Norra Wexley in place of either Ketsu or Lando. With PDICs running around all over, though, and evades also allowing re-rolls on bombing shots, Norra’s utility I think is no longer of much use.


This day and age I also feel like you need a plan to handle what I call the “speed zero trap”. If you haven’t seen the monster that is Sam’s VWC and LVO fleet, you might want to stand up and pay attention. It is centered around two Interdictors, an Onager, and a boatload of mines. His objectives are brutal. The yellow and the blue are almost certain to give him around a 100+ point scoring advantage. Your options for getting any kind of decent win against him are either out bid him and take second, or find away around Surprise Attack. Between two G7-X Grav Well Projectors and a Grav Shift Reroute, Sam can make Surprise Attack hurt a lot if you’re not prepared. There’s two things you have to overcome. First is the G7-X bubble that will force your flagship to deploy at speed zero. With Cataclysm lined up to take a turn one shot, you obviously can’t stay defenseless at speed zero. You need to expect a turn one nav raid as well. Second, you’ll have to find a way around the mines deployed on top of obstacles that will also be shifted around by the Grav Shift Reroute. Your goals should be to get to at least speed two and get hit by no more than one mine. My plan is Ahsoka and Hondo. Hondo gets me my nav token to clear the inevitable turn one nav raid from Surprise Attack. Sam has to bring his own Hondo to fuel Cataclysm, so I can somewhat rely on getting a token of some kind from Sam’s Hondo. With the first activation, I can clear the nav raid with my nav token, then flip the second token to a nav with Ahsoka. Between that and a nav command, I can get the AF2 up to speed two. Unfortunately I lack double die flak to try and kill an obstructed mine, so I’ll have to have my Assault Frigate kite away from the fight for a chance at survival.


X-Wing picture hat trick! This one in honor of Hera and her favorite fruit.

As with all fleets, there are a number of tools I’ve left in the box because I just didn’t have the space. One thing I really wish I could find room for, and something I may still attempt to work back in at some point, is Adar Talon. With Yavaris being effectively dead (yes, John, it’s dead. Let it go.), Adar is one of the best force multipliers available for Rebels. Lando with Asteroid Tactics and Adar is a mean son of a gun. Ketsu is also a great choice for Adar double taps, amplifying her double bomber dice. Gallant Haven is another choice I wish I could find room to include. My more aggressive approach generally means I’m fighting further out from the Assault Frigate, but it’s still a great upgrade to have when dealing with heavy alpha strikes, such as Sloane. The final choice I’ve made is going without a Bomber Command Center. That significantly limits the reliability of my X-Wings on bombing runs, but I really like the flexibility of Ahsoka and a Resupply upgrade. The Assault Frigate is always starved for tokens, be they nav or repair. I’m currently prioritizing that token flexibility over X-Wing bombing lethality. My calculus is I’ll have the X-Wings focusing mostly on wiping enemy squadrons. If they whiff badly I reserve the right to change back to having BCC.


I have managed one game with this new fleet. Besides squandering Lando, the fleet performed very well. I beat a Plo Koon Republic fleet flown by Maturin 349-130. We were both squadron heavy, making for a very bloody squadron fight and very little actual bombing. Where Maturin’s ships focused on flaking, my TRC90s and Assault Frigate hammered his Venator. Ketsu slipped in for the Venator killshot in turn three’s squad phase, which was the most decisive moment of the game. My squadron chops are clearly a little rusty, but this is definitely a very fun fleet for me to fly so far.

 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Dipping My Toes Back In

Hey everybody! It’s your friendly neighborhood Truthiness checking in. And for the first time on CYGSO! It’s been a while since I wrote or talked about anything Armada related. Between the 2021 and 2022 Vassal World Cups, I only played a grand total of six Armada games. After AMG’s rather disappointing Armada news, like many Armada veterans, I just wasn’t feeling great about the state of the game or its future. So I took a pretty long break. I’ve been playing a mix of other games, most notably Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander. I’ve been having a blast, but I still love Star Wars and Armada. When the Vassal World Cup came up again, I signed up mostly out of habit and fond memories. I didn’t put a whole lot of effort into my fleet other than “be different than last year.” That’s how I ended up in the Vassal World Cup with three Ackbar shrimp supported by a couple flotillas and Shara and Tycho. I had one very close loss, one blowout win, and one blowout loss. About when I was losing my second shrimp to massed Munis, I realized that the game had changed noticeably during my break. That’s pretty damned cool for a game with no releases in between. It speaks volumes about the community’s constant experimentation and evolution. It’s something I’ve always loved about our competitive scene. So after my rather embarrassing early exit from the Vassal World Cup this year, I decided to start developing some new fleets for this meta. I’ve now played more Armada games in the last month than I did all of last year. Better late than never right?


Footage of Truthiness trying to be competitive again

I started with more of a stated purpose than a real solid concept. First of all, I wanted something entirely fresh. I still have my Crackentor list that I continually tweak and update, but I hate repeating myself. There was a time I flew squad heavy B-Wings swarms. These days I’m more known for Liberties and TRC90s. The few games I played last year were mostly using Ackbar. I wanted something else entirely. I might still default back to the Crackenator in highly competitive events, as I am quite comfortable flying it and it still looks very effective in this meta. However, for this foray back into Armada, I wanted something entirely new for me. I bounced around some ideas with friends, including some Yularen squadrons, some Grievous TRC spam, or even some Agate with a pimped out MC75. What I’ve settled on in recent weeks is something I did not expect to enjoy: Tarkin Venators. Today I’m going to break down the fleet, how I got to where I am right now, and what makes the whole thing tick.


The basic structure of the fleet is two Venators with SPHA-Ts, a supporting Pelta, and a moderate squadron wing for fighter cover. Tarkin is the lubricant that keeps the parts moving, with concentrate fire tokens feeding SPHA-Ts and Intensify Firepower. I’ve had a version of this in my back pocket for sometime. I’ve never gotten to flying it, assuming that it wouldn’t be all that fun to fly anyway. Fun is always my top priority when picking a fleet. I always try to optimize my fleets, but not at the expense of enjoyment. You’ll never find me flying a fleet just to win. I don’t say that to judge, just to explain why I never really got around to this fleet archetype until recently. It sounded boring all around. In an effort to knock myself out of my comfort zones, though, I gave it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Venators were more fun than I remembered. Rather than being bored with what I assumed would be easy to use SPHA-Ts, I found the placement and use of the weapons to be quite nuanced. It was a very different style and feel than I had experienced in Armada in quite some time. I like it when I find something new to enjoy. As Barney Stinson says, new is always better. After some refinement, I’ve ended up at this point:


Yes, this is what I'm reference. No, I don't regret it.

Tarkin Presents: Clonelodeon Splat! (67/400/400)

================================================


Venator II-class Star Destroyer (100 + 55: 155)

· Admiral Tarkin (30)

· Clone Captain Silver (4)

· Local Fire Control (4)

· SPHA-T (7)

· Electronic Countermeasures (7)

· DBY-827 Heavy Turbolasers (3)


Venator I-class Star Destroyer (90 + 35: 125)

· Clone Captain Zak (5)

· Ordnance Experts (4)

· Intensify Firepower! (6)

· SPHA-T (7)

· Assault Proton Torpedoes (4)

· XI7 Turbolasers (6)

· Tranquility (3)


Pelta-class Transport Frigate (45 + 8: 53)

· Comms Net (2)

· Projection Experts (6)


Axe (17)

2 x Delta-7 Aethersprite Squadron (2 x 17)

Kickback (16)


Contested Outpost

Doomed Station

Station Assault


I’ll start first with the token infrastructure that holds up the whole thing. Needless to say, this is the most complicated part of the fleet. It takes a lot of practice and some forgiving opponents while you learn to make it all work together. I’m only like 60% there, so thank you to everyone I’ve played with it so far. Remembering to trigger tokens at the right windows with the precision the fleet requires is not exactly easy. Between Intensity Firepower and two SPHA-Ts, the need for concentrate fire tokens is obviously pretty intense. That’s where Tarkin comes in. His timing window allows me to grab concentrate fire tokens at the beginning of the turn and then immediately fuel Intensity Firepower. The difficulty comes with readying the SPHA-Ts at the end of the turn. While the Venator 2 can just hang onto its token until the end of the turn, the Venator 1 needs a second concentrate fire token to ready its own SPHA-Ts at the end of the turn. The Comms Net Pelta addresses that issue. It passes its own Tarkin token to the Venator 1 during its activation. Since the first token is spent at the beginning of the ship phase, the Pelta can activate at any point in the turn, provided it can stay in range of the Venator 1. That makes the positioning on the Venator 1 in relation to the Pelta a careful proposition. The actual token plan for Tarkin is pretty simple. He starts the game with 2 repair and 4 concentrate fire tokens. On turn one, he gives out repair tokens. On turns two through five, he gives out concentrate fire. If he’s still around on turn six, he gives out the final set of repair tokens. 


I'm sure this will in no way collapse on me.

The Venators operate pretty dependently on one another, generally needing to stick together to work properly. The Venator 2 flagship, with ECM to help it stay durable, is the screening ship. It is the one that is supposed to take the brunt of damage, especially early in the game when incoming dice pools are at their highest. As such, it generally wants to start pumping out repair commands no later than turn four. When it’s not repairing, it’s generally using squadron commands. I always want at least one squadron command out of the ship on turn two. Sometimes a turn three squadron command is helpful, but more often than not, I’m repairing on turn three. Only if it looks like it’s going to get away scot free do I dial up a navigate command. Normally going without a navigate on a big, less maneuverable ship like the Venator would be a death sentence. Enter Captain Silver, the man with the speed plan. Being able to so rapidly adjust speed without a navigate command cannot be understated here. Thanks to SPHA-Ts, extra ticks of yaw are less of a concern. After all, three out of four arcs are pretty dangerous from a considerable range. Given this ship is designed to be on the front line taking shots, it should be no real surprise then that I’ve found great use out of Local Fire Control and DBY-827 Heavy Turbolasters. The result is that the Venator 2 is able to plunge into the heart of the fight, blasting away with abandon.


If the Venator 2 flagship is the shield, then the Venator 1 is the sword. At the start of the game, I prefer to keep it further away from the enemy fleet, allowing the Venator 2 to take most of the punishment, or forcing opponents to take damage from the Venator 2’s guns to get to the Venator 1. It is in the fleet expressly for Intensify Firepower, the best and most reliable source of dice control for the Republic. That also means taking a large ship without a defensive retrofit, a risky proposition. To compensate for that relative fragility, I take the Tranquility title, allowing me to focus any potential repair commands on just recovering shields and not worry about shifting any around. Every shield counts when you have Tranquility. In contrast to the flagship, the Venator 1 is much more inclined toward flexibility. While I’ll dial up a repair command if I know I’m about to deal with bombing runs, I general prefer to navigate, or maybe even concentrate fire with this ship. I’m continually amazed at how well the ship can reposition at speed 2. So while the flagship is tanking, breaking, or opening the throttle, the Venator 1 is looking for openings. It can jump out ahead of the flagship to rush in. It can cut in hard while Captain Silver is putting the pedal to the metal. It is also geared out a bit better for direct fire compared to the Venator 2. Where the rainbow dice of the flagship are a bit harder to control, Tranquility here is much more straightforward. Between its native armament and Captain Zak adding dice to SPHA-T shots, this ship has the potential to throw out a solid amount of black dice. So Instead of LFC, this ship takes Ordnance Experts. A close range double arc from this ship is very rude. I've recently decided to give APT and XI7s a try on this ship, as I can already think of multiple circumstances where it would have helped delete a small ship faster. With Zak and SPHA-Ts, it's throwing at least two black dice out the side, with a high probability of locking down any pesky evades on ignition shots.


Example of Tranquility and the flagship trading positions mid-match.
Tranquility positions in green, flagship positions in red.

The Pelta is the quiet glue that holds everything together. It’s not there to bring amazing firepower to bear or dash in to save the day. It is the commensurate plodding support ship. It’s not going to win any beauty contests. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve two critical roles. First and foremost is the simple matter of transferring its Tarkin concentrate fire token to Tranquility. It doesn’t sound like much, but it makes the whole fleet sing. The second big thing the Pelta brings to the table is Projection Experts. Long an underutilized upgrade, I’ve been seeing it more and more in the current meta. For a 45 point ship with an engineering value of 4, Projection Experts is almost a no brainer here. This list is all about keeping those two Venators humming, so giving whichever one is ailing more shields is an obvious win. Worst case scenario, someone shoots the Pelta. You know what that means? They’re not shooting a Venator. The Pelta doesn’t disappear easily, so I can typically count on it for at least three turns, likely four. If it goes down, I’m not at a complete loss when it comes to keeping the SPHA-Ts singing. My typical choice is to just discard Intensify Firepower for one last use and then save the Tarkin tokens exclusively for reading SPHA-Ts. In both scenarios, either dying heroically or supporting from behind the line, the Pelta serves a major purpose.


The squadron wing was a longer trial and error than the rest of the list. I have made some minor tweaks to the ship upgrades even and there, but outside of changing out LFC for OE or something else similarly minor, I haven’t really messed with the ships. The squadron wing, by contrast, has seen three different iterations with substantial differences. I started with Plo Koon and three generic V-19s. These put out some decent fire, but tended to crumple quickly. At the suggestion of a few people, I tried out Kickback, Axe, and two generic V-19s next. It was better, but still seemed lacking. It could last decently well, but if it got tied down by, oh say, Shara, they couldn’t really fight their way out of the problem and properly cover the ships. This latest iteration is not one I would have expected to like. I am on record absolutely HATING how much generic Aethersprites ended up costing. I still think they’re at least one point overcosted, perhaps even two. On their own they do NOT work well, dying to a stiff breeze. I have to majorly credit Maturin here for showing me how to leverage them properly. The combination of two Aethersprites, Kickback, and Axe is a deceptively great little squadron ball. Between Dodge and Axe, you can end up mitigating a lot of damage. You just have to carefully manage your Axe positioning and the amount of incoming attacks the Aethersprites have to absorb. That’s where Kickback comes in. His ability to move around the fight, even while locked down and without squadron commands, can help subtly shape fights to spread damage between himself and the Aethersprites. It is a nuanced little ball of fighters that is a lot of fun to use. It perfectly suits the needs of this fleet, which needs some solid squadron cover, but can’t afford to invest a whole lot into it.


Don't die, don't die, don't die

It’s all well and good to describe some abstract roles for the different parts of the fleet. It’s quite another to put it all together on the tabletop. While we often prize deployment advantage and flexible approaches as Armada players, there is room in the game for more standardized and regimented approaches as well. This fleet is definitely the latter, preferring a pretty standard formation to start the game. First of all, it doesn’t really tend to go straight at an enemy fleet. Rather, I like to refuse one flank and approach at an angle. This serves two purposes. First, I really don’t want to be taking fire from multiple sides. Allowing MSU to get around the flank with significant firepower is usually a recipe for disaster. Second, it allows me to disengage more easily if needed. ISDs these are not. They cannot charge headlong into a problem and plow their way through. They need to skirmish a little bit at long range before closing in for a close range finish. Depending on the fight, they might just want to engage at a distance altogether. The starting formation is what allows that. Speed can vary a little, but I prefer to start at speed two on all the ships. That ensure the Pelta can keep pace and the Venators have maximum yaw without additional navigate commands. The Venators are set up staggered. The flagship is set further back, but closer to the side likely to see the mass of enemy ships. Tranquility is set further ahead of the flagship, but on the “outside” position, further from enemy ships. The Pelta follow behind Tranquility, basically following it around the battlefield like a puppy. After deployment, things can get a little more fluid, as described in the above Venator 1 section. Objectives can help this formation flying work. The fleet is comfortable going either first or second, hence the relative lack of bid. However, the priority is concentrating the fight in one area as much as possible. Station Assault, Contested Outpost, and Doomed Station are its own preferred objectives. It’s also built to survive Surprise Attack and can probably flip Volatile Deposits if I manage the asteroid placement properly. By keeping the fight focused on a central location, the Venators are more easily able to control the fight and keep the enemy on one side.

Example approach to Contested Outpost assuming the enemy is
coming mainly from the upper right

I’ll finish up talking about how the SPHA-T placement shapes the whole fleet. They were one the reasons I expected this fleet to be pretty boring. I assumed it was “plop down token, go brrrrrrtt.” It is, instead, a bit more than that, and something I’ve started to enjoy quite a bit. The first big surprise was how big of a choice it is between using SPHA-Ts on the side or on the front. I assumed I’d rarely use it out the front and mostly use it out the side. Instead, I’m almost always taking a shot with them out of the front early in the game. With such easy token generation from Tarkin, I can comfortably bank concentrate fire tokens on the Venators for turn one and plop down SPHA-Ts after my turn one movement. That starts to shape the fight pretty aggressively. From there, SPHA-T placement depends on how I need to approach the enemy fleet. If I’m dealing with someone trying to kite me, I’m likely to continue to put down SPHA-Ts out of the front. If I’m plunging into the heart of an enemy fleet, then I’ll likely switch to side SPHA-Ts. I’ll likely be angling for a double arc, but they can also be a critical terrain denial tool. Nothing says “stay the hell away from my side” quite like a SPHA-T ignition marker daring that small ship to make a run. The third eventuality is that I need to kite for a little bit to weaken the enemy fleet before I can afford to engage closer in. In that case, I’m also using the SPHA-Ts out the side, but I’m likely turned into more of a broadside position with the Venators. The fact that I can fly the Venators in multiple ways depending on the tactical need is another major part of what I’m loving about this fleet. The fleet may not be as navigationally flexible as my Cracken or Raddus fleets of old, but it is still quite tactically flexible.


Some seriously nasty ignition covering the sides of each Venator

That’s all for today. I intend to be playing this fleet for a good bit. I haven’t decided if it’s actually competitive. Heck, I’m not even entirely comfortable with the rhythm of the fleet. But I’m getting there, and I’ll eventually put it through some true stress testing. I’ll be sure to report back when I do!